Sixers outlast Raptors to advance against Bucks
Updated: Monday May 21, 2001 7:58 AM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Allen Iverson passed his biggest test, not by scoring 50 points again but by passing the ball and trusting his teammates.
And in a game that came down to the last shot, Vince Carter -- "The Graduate" -- didn't have the final answer.
Iverson didn't have to win Game 7 all by himself, and he was smart enough to know it. Handing off a career-high 16 assists on a night when his shooting touch was off, Iverson led the Philadelphia 76ers into the Eastern Conference finals Sunday as they edged the Toronto Raptors 88-87.
Carter, who graduated from North Carolina earlier Sunday and then flew on a private plane to Philadelphia, attempted the final shot of the game -- a 23-footer just before the buzzer that was a little too long.
Iverson ran to hug his mother and kids, confetti fell from the ceiling of the First Union Center, and the rest of the Sixers celebrated the franchise's first trip to the Eastern Conference finals since 1985.
The 76ers will begin their series against Milwaukee at home on Tuesday night.
"I feel so good about this win because I really, really know inside and believe that I have a team, for the first time in my life, that I feel we can win a championship with."
None of those teammates came up bigger than Aaron McKie, whose 22 points were one more than Iverson totaled on 8-for-27 shooting.
McKie shot 8-for-16 and scored Philadelphia's final four points, Jumaine Jones shot 6-for-9 and added 16, Eric Snow contributed 13 points and five assists, and Dikembe Mutombo grabbed 17 rebounds and scored 10 points.
Iverson, the league MVP, didn't score a point during the final 6 1/2 minutes but had assists on two of the Sixers' final three baskets.
In a series marked by spectacular 50-point scoring performances by Iverson (twice) and Carter (once), the deciding game was much more balanced for both teams.
Iverson's passing made all the difference as he continually found the open man for the types of shots that allowed the Sixers to hold on to the lead for almost the entire game.
"I've got four other guys on the court with me that I hurt with, laugh with, and that's what it's all about. You can't get into a Game 7, with the guys who were with you all season, and forget about them because you think it's all about you," Iverson said.
Carter finished with 20 points, scoring just four in the final quarter. Antonio Davis led Toronto with 23.
Dell Curry pulled up in transition and hit a 3-pointer to pull the Raptors to 88-87 with 54 seconds left. Iverson missed a jumper at the other end, but Tyrone Hill grabbed the offensive rebound and the Sixers ran the clock down to 10 seconds before Iverson passed to Snow for a jumper that missed.
The Raptors rebounded, but didn't call timeout until 3.6 seconds remained. The Sixers had a foul to give and used it -- running the clock down to 2.0 seconds -- before Carter got free for the inbounds pass and faked Hill off his feet.
"All I can think about is that shot. It's something you live for," Carter said. "Maybe next year."
It was a disappointing loss for the Raptors, who battled from behind all evening only to finish short in the first Game 7 -- and the first conference semifinal appearance -- in franchise history.
Although he wasn't shooting well right from the start, Iverson was doing all the little things the Sixers needed. He had a dunk and a layup off his first two steals, and his fifth assist came on a give-and-go layup by McKie that put the Sixers ahead 29-16.
Toronto began the second quarter with an 8-0 run to pull within two, 31-29, but Philadelphia came right back with a 10-3 run that included two putbacks by Jones. After one of them, two of the Raptors pointed fingers of blame at Jerome Williams -- a clear sign they weren't all working together.
"If we had stayed focused throughout the series, we would have won," Toronto's Chris Childs said.
Iverson picked up his 10th assist on a dunk by Hill that made it 56-52 early in the third, and Toronto missed a chance to tie when Davis got the ball isolated in the low post against Snow but missed a layup.
Iverson had one of his best plays on Toronto's next possession, racing downcourt and leaping a foot above the rim to get a finger on Alvin Williams' fast-break layup attempt, causing him to miss.
Carter finally gave the Raptors their first lead since the first quarter by converting a three-point play with 2:30 left in the third, but Philadelphia quickly regained it and held it the rest of the way.
"It was a very satisfying win for this franchise. As a coach who appreciates guys trying to play the right way and caring about their teammates, I thought this was a terrific accomplishment," Sixers head coach Larry Brown said.
Notes: The Sixers, who made 41 of 42 free throws in their previous
two home games, made their first 10 and then missed four in a row.
They finished with 32 attempts to Toronto's 17 ... Iverson's
previous career-high in assists was 15. ... The first four games of
the conference finals will be played Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday